Father-son duo helm Williamsville Eatery
NEWFANE >> At Williamsville Eatery, the key word is "local."
The new restaurant operates inside a local institution — a former general store with 185 years of history in its wooden beams. It is run by a local father-son duo — Glenn and Dylan Richardson — and caters to a mostly local crowd.
And their emphasis is on local food including seasonal offerings from nearby farms. While that presents some challenges at times, the Richardsons believe they've chosen the right place at the right time to establish a business in their town.
"We're doing what we love to do in a space we like to be in," Dylan Richardson said.
The retail space at 26 Dover Road in Williamsville had been, according to the Richardsons, "one of the longest continually run general stores in Vermont." It dates to 1828, but the storefront had been empty for several years when building owner Rob Goldenhill presented Dylan Richardson with an opportunity in 2013.
"He got to the point where he wanted to do something with the building," the younger Richardson recalled. "He approached me ... he knew about our passion for food."
Dylan Richardson, 26, had worked at the general store for several years as a younger man, and he has experience in the restaurant business. He joined forces with his dad, Glenn, who had operated a graphic-design business in Newfane.
The elder Richardson, 56, uses phrases such as "a jump into the deep end" when describing the decision to open a restaurant. But he also cites a lengthy planning process.
"What drove the whole concept was being as methodical and businesslike as possible," Glenn Richardson said. "We developed a business plan. We wanted to do it right."
That applies to the space, which has been adapted into a combined dining room/bar/kitchen. The stove, oven and prep tables are separated from the dining area only by a half-wall, and Glenn Richardson calls that a "thrill" — especially when the dining room is full.
"There are times during service where we'll just look out there and nudge each other," he said.
There was a new floor installed, and a lot of the other renovations were "a family affair," Glenn Richardson said. Some key features already were present, such as an old wooden walk-in cooler from the general-store days.
"It's such a unique, beautiful building," Dylan Richardson said. "We just wanted to highlight those features."
The Richardsons took the same careful approach to menu development, though the choice to focus on pizza was an easy one. Glenn Richardson said his son "has a lot of time in front of the oven, working with dough and crafting pizzas."
The Friday and Saturday menu at Williamsville Eatery features nine pizzas ranging from classic cheese and Margherita pies to more unique offerings such as the Salmon Says — featuring Atlantic salmon, arugula, goat cheese and slow-roasted tomatoes — and the Hawaiian Oinker, a combination of Vermont bacon, pineapple, tomato sauce, red onion and broccoli rabe.
There also are snacks and starters; soup; a salad of local organic greens; and a full plate of polenta and meatballs, with a vegetarian option available.
The eatery recently expanded to Thursday "taco nights," with offerings including pork, chicken, tofu and black bean tacos. The response has been strong: "We wanted to have a soft opening (for Thursday nights), and it was anything but," Glenn Richardson said with a laugh.
The eatery's dishes feature locally sourced ingredients. The list of nearby providers on the restaurant's website — WilliamsvilleEatery.com — includes Amazing Planet! Farm in Williamsville, Firebelly Farm in Brookline, Dutton Farm in Newfane and Oak and Elm Farm in Williamsville.
"At the end of the day, I think fresh food that's grown close by just tastes better," Dylan Richardson said. "We're pretty fortunate to have some really great farms and producers in the area."
The Richardsons also are thankful for a small but dedicated staff and, of course, for their customers.
"It's so satisfying for us to see how many folks return and seem to enjoy what we're doing here," Glenn Richardson said.
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